Imagine if every year the U.S. military suffered thousands of causalities in some foreign conflict.

It is a difficult and chilling scenario. Fortunately, no such war exists, but every year seasonal flu and its complications send people to the hospital and kill many more.

In this day and age, we tend to focus on diseases that grab headlines and generate fear but are tucked into remote jungle regions. Ebola continues even now to burn through portions of the Congo. Yet we forget that seasonal influenza is a dangerous and routine malady that rolls through our midst.

The flu is no joke. It can kill and often does, but there is a time-tested method to avoid it.

Taking the time out to get a flu shot isn't just a minor inconvenience. It is a critical part of keeping not only yourself safe but also your friends and family and others you may not even know.

As far as Mother Nature goes, influenza is a perfect virus. Easily spread, it infects people with ease. When someone infected coughs, sneezes or even talks, the virus can be inhaled into the lungs. From there the virus spreads and brings on the all-too-familiar symptoms of the flu.

About 8% of the U.S. population is infected by the virus each year.

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Flu can also create severe complications, including pneumonia and other infections.

The annual cost of flu is also steep. Estimates place a price tag of more than $9 billion a year in costs connected to hospital stays and visits to the doctor because of the virus. That is not counting, by the way, the number of days missed from work by those who are struck down by the virus.

That is why getting a flu shot now is so important. Generally, acquiring a flu shot isn't expensive and it is a fast, efficient way to avoid the sickness.

Get your flu shot either from your primary care provider or by visiting the county health department. Pharmacies in grocery stores and drug stores often provide vaccines as well.

No one likes to get sick and certainly no one wants to spend seven to 10 days at home fighting off the flu virus. But modern medicine offers all of us a way to avoid the flu.

Don't mess around with the flu. Get your flu shot. A short time out during the day to get the vaccine will pay off down the road.

— The East Oregonian

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